The Kabbalistic & Alchemical Symbolism of the Old French Companion (2°)


1A French Rite: Catechism of the Companion (1744)

“Question. Are you Companion?
Answer. Yes I am, Venerable.

Q. Why did you have yourself made as a Companion?
A. In regards to the Letter G.

Q. What does this Letter G signify?
A. Geometry, or the fifth of the Sciences.

Q. Have you worked?
A. Yes, Venerable.

Q. Were you paid?
A. I am happy.

Q. Where have you worked?
A. In the Temple of Solomon.

Q. Through where did you enter?
A. Through the door of the West.

Q. What did you notice?
A. Two great Pillars.

Q. From what material were they made?
A. From Bronze.

Q. How high were they?
A. Eighteen cubits.

Q. What was the circumference?
A. Twelve cubits.

Q. And the width?
A. Four fingers.

Q. What were their Ornaments?
A. Two caps decorated with Lilies with Pomegranates.

Q. How many of them were there?
A. 100 and more.

Q. Where do the Companions assemble ?
A. In the South.

Q. Why?
A. In order to receive instruction, and give good welcome to the visiting Brothers.

Q. Give me the sign of the Companion
one makes the sign of the Companion.

Q. Give me the grip.
one gives the grip.

Q. Give me the word?
A. I will spell it out with you. Tell me the first letter, I will tell you the second.
Q. B.
A. O.
Q. A.
A. Z.

Q. What does Boaz signify?
A. Perseverance in good, and it is the name of the other Pillar placed at the door of the Temple, near where the Companions assemble in order to receive their salary.

Q. What is the password of the Companions?

Q. What does Shibboleth mean?
A. It was the password of the Tributes who were at War with the Tribe of Ephraim. The Sentinels posted on the banks of the Jordan were demanding from the Ephraimites this word, which they could not pronounce like the others, thus they were recognized as enemies, and they were precipitated into the river after having killed them.

Q. How do the Apprentice-Companions journey?
A. From the West to the South, from the South to the North, and from the North to the East.

Q. To what are the major signs of Masonry reduced?
A. To four.

Q. What are they?
A. The Guttural, the Pectoral, Manual, and the Pedestrian.

Q. What is the Guttural sign used for?
A. To give the sign of the Apprentice, and to make us remember that we should deserve to have our throat cut, if we reveal the secrets of Masonry.

Q. What is the pectoral sign used for?
A. To give the sign of the Companion, and to signal that we keep the secrets of the Masons in our hearts, and to make us remember that we deserve to have it torn out, if we were capable of violating our oath.

Q. What is the manual sign used for?
A. To give the grip.

Q. What is the Pedestrian sign used for?
A. To show an exact Mason by putting his feet in a Square.

Q. How many Ornaments do you have in your Lodge?
A. Three.

Q. What are they?
A. The mosaic pavement, the blazing Star, and the Tassel with jagged borders.

Q. What was their purpose?
A. The mosaic pavement paved the Temple, the blazing star was at the center, the Tassel with jagged borders, marked off the extremities.

Q. Have you seen your Master today?
A Yes Venerable.

Q. How was he dressed?
A. in Gold, and in Azure.

Q. During what time do you serve him?
A. From Monday morning to Saturday evening.

Q. How do you serve him?
A. With zeal, fervor, and liberty.

Q. What is the name of a Mason?
A. Gabanon.

Q. And that of the son of a Mason?
A. Lufton.

Q. What Privilege does he have in the Lodge?
A. To be received before all the Princes, Lords, and others.

Q. What must a Mason observe?
A. Four things: silence, secrecy, prudence, and charity towards his Brothers.

Q. What must he flee?
A. Backbiting, slander, and intemperance.

Q. How old are you?
A. Seven years old.

End of the Catechism of the Companions.

-Paraphrase from Ch. 5 of CATECHISM OF THE FREE-MASONS (1744) by Louis Travenol,
available in Ch. 11 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism


1B French Rite: Catechism of the Female Companion (1772)

“Q. Are you a Female Companion?
A. Take me to the test.

Q. Why did you have yourself made as a Female Companion?
A. In order to know virtue and to practice it.

Q. How were you received as a Female Companion?
A. By a fruit and a ligament.

Q. What do they represent?
A. The sweetness and the union of the fraternity.

Q. Where were you received as a Female Companion?
A. Between the Tower of Babel and Jacob’s ladder and at the foot of Noah’s ark.

Q. What does the tower of Babel represent?
A. The Pride of the children of the earth, from which one can only guarantee oneself by opposing it with a discrete heart, which is the character of a true Masonne.

Q. What does Jacob’s ladder represent?
A. This ladder is very mysterious, the two uprights represent the love for God and for one’s neighbor, and the rungs represent the virtues derived from a beautiful soul.

Q. What does Noah’s ark represent?
A. The heart of man agitated by passions, like the ark was by the waters of the Flood.

Q. From what wood is it constructed?
A. From cedar, in order to show us the incorruptibility of our customs.

Q. Did you have any difficulty in entering it?
A. Yes, I had to go through several tests.

Q. What were they?
A. The fire and the aspect of death; the fire, in order to purify me of my defects ; the aspect of death, in order to make me remember how it entered into the world through the sin of our first Parents.

Q. After undergoing all these tests, what did you see?
A. The star of the East, in order to lead me on the path of the truth.

Q. What was done to you then?
A. I was made to approach the foot of the throne by five steps starting with the right foot, where they made me renew my promise.

Q. How were you?
A. Under the weight of a chain, and I promised to quit vice, to follow virtue, and to never swallow apple seeds, as they were the germ of the seed of the forbidden fruit.

Q. What was done to you then?
A. The seal of discretion was put upon me, so that my mouth may be closed forever to defamation and to slander.

Q. How do I recognize that you are a Female Companion?
A. By the signs and the word.

Q. Give me the sign of the Female Companion. (It is given.)

Q. Give me the word. (It is given. [“Belba”])

Q. What does the sign of the ear signify?
A. That they must be open to anything that can instruct us, and be closed to anything that can corrupt us.

Q. What does that sign above the top of the mouth signify?
A. In order to teach us to always have it closed to gossip.

Q. What does the word signify?
A. Peace and harmony is restored between the Brothers and Sisters through the reversal of the tower of Babel.

Q. What are the main duties of Masons & Masonnes?
A. To make each other happy.

Q. How does one succeed in that bliss ?
A. Through the union and the practice of virtues.

Q. Why were you required to sleep the night of your reception with the symbol of the Order?
A. In order to remind me that in such a time and in such a place where I find myself, that silence secures our mysteries and that virtue must never abandon me.

Q. What is the duty of Masonnes?
A. To listen, to obey, to work and to keep quiet.

The Venerable closes the Lodge like that of the Apprentices; that is to say, at the same time and with the same ceremonies, by saying, “my Brothers and Sisters, let us observe exactly what we have just been taught.

Let us listen, let us obey, let us work
and let us keep quiet.”

End of the Lodge of the Female Companion.

(1772) by Basset,
available in Ch. 11 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism


2A Adonhiramite Rite: Catechism of the Companion (1789)

“Q. My Brother, what subject brings you here?
A. Most Venerable, I come to the assembly of Companions in order to receive your orders and to profit from your lights.

Q. How have you attained this degree?
A. Through zeal, work and prudence.

Q. What have you learned in receiving the degree of Companion?
A. The significance of the letter G.

Q. What does this letter mean?
A. Geometry, fifth of the sciences, and the most useful to a Mason.

Q. Where were you received as a Companion?
A. In a perfect Lodge.

Q. How many are those who compose such a Lodge?
A. Six; designated by the six lights, which are a Venerable Master, two Surveyors, two Masters and a Companion.

Q. How were you received?
A. By making me climb the seven degrees of the Temple.

Q. What were you given after having been received?
A. A sign, a grip and two words.

Q. Give me the sign?
(For the Answer, it is given.)

Q. What do you call it?
A. Pectoral.

Q. What does it signify?
A. That I keep the secrets of the Masons in the heart, and that I prefer to have it torn out, rather than reveal them to the Profane.

Q. Give the grip to the second Brother?
(He obeys, and when he is confirmed to the order, the second Surveyor responds: )
A. It is just, Most Venerable.

Q. Tell me the sacred word of the Companions?
(It is said as it was learned.)

Q. What does this word mean?
A. Strength/Force is in God. It is the name of the column which was in the South, near the door of the Temple where the Companions assembled themselves.

Q. Have you worked since you were a Companion?
A. Yes, Most Venerable, I have worked in the Temple of Solomon.

Q. By what door have you entered?
A. By the door of the West.

Q. Have you noticed something near this door?
A. Two great columns.

Q. In what manner were they made?
A. Of brass.

Q. What was their height?
A. Eighteen cubits.

Q. Their circumference?
A. Twelve cubits.

Q. What width was the bronze?
A. Four fingers.

Q. With what were they adorned?
A. With caps.

Q. What supports them?
A. Globes in the form of spheres, sprinkled with lilies and pomegranates(1).

Q. How many were there?
A. A hundred and more.

Q. Why do you say, a hundred and more?
A. In order to mark that good Masons must be without number.

Q. What was the interior of these columns used for?
A. To enclose the instruments of Geometry and the treasure in order to pay the workers.

Q. To whom was the Lodge dedicated where you were received?
A. To Saint John the Baptist.

Q. Why?
A. This is from the times of the warriors of Palestine, the Mason Knights reunited with the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem in order to fight the infidels. As they were put under the protection of this great Saint, and they brought back victory, they rendered him grace upon their return, and acknowledged that in the future all the Lodges would be dedicated to him.

Q. In what place is your Lodge situated?
A. In the East of the valley of Jahosephat, in a place where peace, truth, and union reigns.

Q. What form does it have?
A. A long square.

Q. What length?
A. From the East to the West.

Q. What is its width?
A. From the South to the North.

Q. Its height?
A. Cubits without number.

Q. Its depth?
A. From the surface of the earth to the center.

Q. With what is it covered?
A. With a star-studded celestial canopy.

Q. What supports such a vast edifice?
A. Two great pillars.

Q. How do you name them?
A. Wisdom and Strength/Force.

Q. Explain this to me?
A. Wisdom in order to invent, and Strength/Force in order to support.

Q. Do you have ornaments in your Lodge?
A. Yes, Most Venerable, to the number of three, which are, the paved Mosaic, the jagged Tassel, and the blazing Star.

Q. What do they represent?
A. The paved Mosaic represents the threshold of the great Portico of the Temple, the jagged Tassel represents the exterior ornaments, and the blazing Star is the center from where the true light emerges.

Q. These ornaments, do they not enclose some morality?
A. Yes, Most Venerable, the Paved Mosaic, formed from different stones joined together by the cement, mark the upright union which reigns between Masons who are aligned by virtue; the jagged Tassel is the emblem of exterior ornament of a Lodge by the customs of the Brothers who compose it; and the blazing Star is the symbol of the Sun of the universe.

Q. Do you also have jewels in your Lodge?
A. Yes, Most Venerable, to the number of six, of which three are mobile, and three are immobile.

Q. What are the three mobile ones?
A. The Square, the Level and the Plumb Rule.

Q. Why do you call these mobile?
A. Because they pass from one Brother to another.

Q. What are they used for?
A. The Square serves to form perfect right angles, the Level to equalize the surfaces [or planes], and the Perpendicular [or plumb-rule] to elevate edifices upright upon their foundation.

Q. What are the three immobile jewels?
A. The brute Stone, the cubic or angular Stone, and the Master’s Tracingboard.

Q. What are they used for?
A. The brute Stone serves for the Apprentices to work, the cubic Stone serves for the Companions to sharpen their tools, and the Master’s Tracingboard is for them to make their plans.

Q. All these jewels, do they not have some symbolic significance?
A. Yes, Most Venerable; the Square tells us that all our actions should be ruled by justice ; the Level, that all men are equal, and that a perfect union between Brothers must reign; and the Ruler demonstrates to us the stability of our Order, being elevated upon the virtues; the brute stone, which the Apprentices work, is the emblem of our soul, capable of good or bad impressions; the cubic stone which is used by the companions in order to sharpen their tools, makes us recollect that it is only by watching over ourselves that we can preserve ourselves from vices; and the tracingboard of the Masters is a good example which facilitates the practice of the most noble virtues.

Q. How many types of Masons are there?
A. Two types: theoretical Masons and practical Masons.

Q. Who are the theoretical Masons?
A. They are those of our Order who raise Temples for virtue, and who dig vaults for vices.

Q. Who are the practical Masons?
A. They are the Workers who construct material edifices.

Q. What does theoretical Masonry serve for?
A. It is used for its principles and for its sublime morality, to purify our traditions and to make us useful for the State and for humanity.

Q. What are the laws of Masonry?
A. To punish crime and to honor virtue.

Q. What must a Mason avoid?
A. Envy, slander and intemperance.

Q. What must he observe?
A. Silence, prudence and charity.

Q. Could you tell me how many points there are in Masonry?
A. They are numberless, but they are reduced to four principals: namely, the Guttural and the Pectoral, which remind us of our obligation, while they are explained in doing them; the Manual, which serves to give the grip in order to recognize ourselves, and the Pedestrian, which demonstrates to us that every good Mason must walk on the path of equality of which the Square is the symbol.

Q. How do the Companions journey?
A. From the West to the South, from South to North, and from the North to the East.

Q. What does this walk signify?
A. * That a Mason must come to the rescue of his Brothers, even if they were at the ends of the earth.

Q. Where are the Companions placed in the Lodge?
A. In the south, in order to receive the order of the Masters.

Q. Where are they paid?
A. At the ‘B’ column.

Q. What is the password of the Companions?
A. “Shibboleth”.

Q. What does this word mean?
A. ‘Ear of wheat or corn’, in Hebrew; it is the watchword of the camp of Jephthah, Captain of the Israelites. When the tribe of Ephraim rebelled, Jephthah seized the banks of the Jordan on which Ephraim wanted to return; and all those who presented themselves at the passage and could not pronounce this word were massacred and thrown into the river.

Q. Did you see your Master today?
A. Yes, Most Venerable.

Q. How was he dressed?
A. In gold and azure.

Q. What do these two words signify?
A. That a Mason should keep wisdom in the bosom of his great works with which he can be dressed.

Q. How old are you?
A. Five years old.

Q. What time is it?
A. Midnight.

This Lodge is closed like the previous one, there is only the name, the sign and the applause that change.

End of the second Degree.

-Paraphrase from PRECIOUS COLLECT OF ADONHIRAMITE MASONRY (1789) by Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor,
available in Ch. 12 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism


2B Adonhiramite Rite: Catechism of the Female Companion (1787)

“Q. Are you a female Companion?
A. Give me an apple and you will swear that I am.

Q. How did you become a female Companion?
A. By a Fruit and a Ligament.

Q. What does the Fruit signify?
A. The knowledge of good and of evil.

Q. What does the Ligament signify?
A. The strength/force of a perfect friendship, which only has virtue as its foundation.

Q. What was applied to you when you were received?
A. The seal of discretion.

Q. Why is it forbidden for the female Companion to eat the seeds of apples?
A. Because they contain the germ [or seed] of the forbidden fruit.

Q. What is the state of a female Masonne?
A. The state of being happy, it is the designation for which we have been created.

Q. How does one come to this happiness ?
A. Through the help of the Tree of the middle.

Q. What does this Tree signify?
A. Masonry, which makes us know the evil that we do, and the good which remains for us to do, by practicing the virtues which we are taught in our Lodges, this is why we name them “Temples of virtue”.

Q. Where was this Tree planted?
A. In the Garden of Eden, the delicious location where God placed our first Father, and where we should live in perfect security.

Q. Chased out of the terrestrial Paradise, how have you been able to reenter into the Temple?
A. Through Noah’s Ark, the first grace that God accorded to men.

Q. What does Noah’s Ark signify?
A. The human heart agitated by the passions like the Ark was moved about by the winds upon the waters of the Flood.

Q. Why did Noah construct this Ark?
A. In order to save himself and his family from the general punishment; in the same way Masons come into the Lodge in order to remove the vices which reign so often in the other Societies.

Q. How did Noah construct this Ark?
A. Through order, and afterwards through the plans that the Great Architect of the Universe gave him, and the Morality of which must serve as the rule for the Masons, so as to guarantee oneself to be free from general corruption.

Q. Why did other men not take advantage of this at all?
A. Because they were blinded by false lights, they criticized the Work of the Great Master, who, as a punishment, allowed them to harden, which precipitated them into the abyss.

Q. Of what form was this Ark?
A. It had four stories, which were thirty cubits tall; it was long by three hundred cubits, and wide by fifty cubits.

Q. From what type of wood was this edifice constructed?
A. From Cedar, wood which the Scripture tells us is incorruptible; which symbolizes the true Mason, who must be virtuous for the simple pleasure of being, and put himself above prejudices and slander.

Q. What form did the wooden boards have?
A. They were all equal and very smooth; which demonstrates to us the perfect equality which must reign between us, and which must be established upon the ruined remains of self-love [amour-propre].

Q. How was the Ark illuminated?
A. By a single cross placed in the heights of the fourth story.

Q. What bird did Noah send out in order to know if the waters were receding?
A. The Crow, which did not come back, image of all false Brethren, who (adorning themselves with the traits of wisdom) neglect the innocent pleasures of Masonry in order to instead enjoy in particular the criminal delights of the senses.

Q. What bird did Noah send out after the Crow?
A. The Dove, which brought back an Olive branch, symbol of the peace which must reign between Masons.

Q. Give me the sign of the Female Companion?
A. Here it is.
(It is given.)

Q. Give me the word.
A. “Belba”, which signifies ‘confusion’.

Q. Give me the password.
A. “Lama sabachthani”, which means ‘Lord, I have only sinned because you abandoned me’. [see Mark 15:34 and Psalm 22:1]

Q. How does a female Companion travel?
A. Without detours, and in Noah’s Ark.

Q. Give me a definite answer regarding the correspondence that there is between our Lodges and Noah’s Ark?
A. Noah (withdrawn from the business of men) cultivated innocence and virtue in the Ark with his family; just as the true Mason, fleeing from loud and scandalous societies, comes to the Lodge in order to enjoy of its delicious pleasures, free from remorse which procures us honor and decency.

After this answer the Venerable says: “Let us cultivate these virtues which are so dear to us; and in order to show our agreement, let us applaud, my Brethren”.

All the Brother & Sisters applaud, and the Venerable says:

“The Lodge is closed, my Brethren”.

The two Officers repeat these words.

End of the second Degree.

-Paraphrase from MANUAL OF FRENCH MASONNES OR THE TRUE MASONRY OF ADOPTION (1787) by Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor,
available in Ch. 12 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism



3A Memphis Rite: Catechism of the Companion (1854)


Q. Very Dear Brother 1st Surveyor, do you possess the 2nd degree of the Order?
A. Yes, Venerable.

Q. What is your Masonic name?
A. Mysthe.

Q. What does this name mean?
A. Veiled; because during the whole duration of my reception, an emblematic veil enveloped my head.

Q. What does this veil signify?
A. The state of ignorance in which I find myself again, even after having passed through the 1st degree.

Q. Where were you received?
A. In the Temple of Truth.

Q. How did you penetrate it?
A. A mallet was placed in my hand, symbol of strength/force submitted to intelligence or intelligent understanding, and I was made to strike the three knocks of an apprentice upon the door of the Temple.

Q. What were you asked?
A. “Who knocks as an apprentice?”

Q. What was your reply?
A. “It is a neophyte (apprentice) belonging to this worthy Lodge of … who asks for the initiation of the 2nd degree.” Then I was allowed entry.

Q. What did you do after you had entered?
A. The Venerable said to me, “Neophyte, your responses which you have given to the five masonic questions that were asked of you by this worthy Lodge, have been recognized as satisfactory, and you are admitted to pass through the 2nd degree of initiation.”

Q. What happened then?
A. The great Expert proceeded then to make me accomplish the five symbolic journeys.

Q. How were these journeys made, and what do they signify?
A. I made my first journey with a mallet in hand; arriving at the altar, I was inclined before the luminous triangle, in the middle of which was the letter G, the initial of the word geometry. The luminous triangle is the emblem of the sublime Geometrician of the universe.
This first journey represents the time that a neophyte must take to study the first cause, the existence of which is revealed in the magnificent architecture of the universe.
I made the second journey, holding a compass in hand, emblem of precision, which traces the circumference and recalls the route that the celestial spheres take in the immensity of space; I was made to prostrate twice before the luminous triangle.
I accomplished the third journey carrying a lever on the right shoulder; this lever is the emblem of the power which man acquires from the formulas of the science, in order to apply it to acts which his individual strength/force could not accomplish on its own; I arrived before the luminous triangle, and I was made to incline three times.
I made the fourth journey holding in my hand the square and the level; the square is the emblem of justice, and the level is the emblem of the equality which one must have in order to be an inseparable companion of justice. I bowed four times before the luminous triangle.
I made my fifth and last journey with the perpendicular [or plumb-rule], which represents the stability of the masonic Order established upon the solid foundation of truth and science, and I prostrated myself five times before the luminous triangle.

Q. What happened to you after these journeys?
A. I was made to take the oath of the degree.

Q. How did you take it?
A. I was standing with my right hand on the sacred book of the law; and after the presentation of the sermon, the Venerable proclaimed me a “Mysthe”, 2nd degree of the masonic Order of Memphis, and gave me the signs, words and grip, and the brotherly kiss.

Q. Stand at attention.
He puts himself at attention.

Q. What do you call this charge?
A. Pectoral.

Q. What does this charge signify?
A. It reminds me of my oath.

Q. Give the sign.
He does it.

Q. What does this sign signify?
A. That I would prefer to have the heart torn out before revealing the secrets of the 2nd degree.

Q. Give the grip to the Brother Master of Ceremonies.
He gives it.

The Brother Master of Ceremonies says: “Venerable, it is correct.”

Q. Give me the password.
He gives it [‘Shibboleth’].

Q. What does this word signify?
A. ‘Ear of wheat or corn’, fruit of wisdom.

Q. Give me the sacred word.
A. Give me the first letter, Venerable, and I will give you the second [‘Jakin’].

The Venerable and the 1st Surveyor spell the sacred word one letter at a time.

Q. What does this word signify?
A. Preparation.

Q. What did you see in the Temple of Truth?
A. A luminous triangle and two great columns.

Q. What are they named?
A. B. and J.

Q. Where are they placed?
A. The B. column is placed in the west at the angle of the north and the J. column in the west, at the angle of the south.

Q. With what are they crowned ?
A. With two spheres.

Q. What are they covered in?
A. Hieroglyphics.

Q. What are the ornaments of the learned lodge?
A. The paved mosaic, the jagged tassel and the blazing star.

Q. What do these ornaments signify?
A. The paved mosaic, formed from different stones joined together by cement, signifies the strong union which exists among Masons, linked together by virtue; the jagged tassel is the emblem of the exterior adornment of a Lodge embellished by the customs of the brethren who compose it, and the blazing star is the emblem of the sun, the eye of the universe.

Q. Do you also have jewels in your worthy Lodge?
A. Yes, Venerable, there are six.

Q. What are they?
A. The square, level, perpendicular [or plumb-rule], the mallet, the lever and the compass.

Q. What is the moral significance of these tools?
A. The square indicates to us that all our actions must be regulated by justice ; the level, that all men (being equal before God) must help each other; the plumb-rule indicates that virtue should be permanent ; the mallet indicates the efforts that we must continually make in order to perfect ourselves; the lever, the mutual help that we owe each other; and the compass, the regularity of our actions. Finally these allegorical tools teach the Mason that he must work without ceasing to render his life just and perfect.

Q. How do the “Mysthes” (Companions) journey or voyage?
A. From the west to the south, from south to north, and from north to west: this path signifies that a Mason should hasten to the help of his Brothers even if they are at the other extremity of the earth.

Q. Why is a Lodge not just and perfect unless it encloses the number 7?
A. Because the septenary number is the number of harmony, and harmony is born from justice.

Q. How old are you?
A. 5 years old.

Q. Why 5 years old?
A. Because that is the time that the “Mysthe” takes to prepare himself for ‘epoptism’ or mastery.

Q. What do you come here to do?
A. To work, to obey, and to make new progress in Masonry.


The Venerable addresses the Recipient who is placed between the two columns in these terms:

My Brother, do you believe in the existence of the Great Architect of the universe?
A. Yes, Venerable

Q. By what means is man able to be persuaded of his existence?
A. Through the observation and contemplation of the masterpieces that his omnipotence produced in nature.

Q. Is the belief in a God necessary for man?
A. Yes; without it, the fire of his imagination would extinguish, his poetic verve would lack power and would lack enthusiasm, and nature (mute and devoid of attractions) would say nothing more to his heart.

Q. Was man born for society?
A. Yes; the operations of his spirit, the movements of his heart (in a body subject to a thousand needs) announces that he must seek the most pressing help in his fellows; the weakness of our organs serves to make us admire the resilience in the true sage which divine Providence has used in order to unite men in society; since if man could have nourished himself like the birds, he would not have imagined nor perfected the culture of the earth; if our bodies were not tested by the weather of the seasons, then it would have been useless to raise buildings; if each individual could have passed as another for his preservation, then men would never have united; isolated and independent, they would have lived in barbarism without having any idea of the arts nor of the sciences.

Q. What does the masonic secret consist of?
A. The knowledge of the power and of the different operations of nature.

Q. What are the arts or sciences that masons taught men?
A. Agriculture, architecture, astronomy, geometry, numbers, music, chemistry, government and religion.

Q. How did they acquire all this knowledge?
A. The first man instructed his children in the truths which heaven had dictated to him or that he had discovered through its various combinations; such was the origin of these traditions, which were preserved by the most loyal people, about the origin of the world and the most necessary arts of life. The first city in the world was built by his eldest son; that city carries with it the idea of a society. Jubal was called the father of those who sang and who used the harp, and Tubal-Cain was the first who was able to handle the metals and brass: these facts are affirmed by sacred history and we discover a society as ancient as humanity. The always recurring needs (including the necessary nourishment) were taken from the bosom of the earth, through relentless work, and that fruitful mother spread abundant harvests and the sweetness of fruit everywhere, while cattle raised with care, provided man with a delicious nourishment. In the times that followed, experience rendered men more polite, more educated and happier; but they were only able to draw this happiness from the bonds that formed the society.

Q. Could a people without education live happily?
A. No; if, in man, all the movements are regulated, if everything in him is good, then education would not be necessary in order to make him happy; but if he is capable of excess, if he joins ignorance with his always recurring and opposed passions, who will pull him from his ignorance? who will assign him the just middle where virtue is essentially found? who will teach him to submit his passions to reason?
Will he procure happiness for himself without foreign aid? No; in order to achieve this, education is indispensable.

Q. What are the principal faculties of man?
A. Understanding and willpower: understanding, which one must direct towards the truth; willpower which one must give over to virtue; one is the aim of logic, the other is that of morality.

Q. Do you believe in the human soul, and in its immortality?
A. Yes; nature itself implicitly reassures us about our immortality.
I do not know where this comes from, but I find that a presentiment of a future life is inherent in the soul of man; this presentiment, this idea of immortality exists, and appears with more brilliance in the greatest geniuses and the highest souls; our soul has only a very simple, very general, very constant form: this form is thinking; it is impossible for us to perceive our soul except through thinking; this form has nothing divisible, nothing extensive, nothing impenetrable, nothing material: therefore the subject of this form (our soul) is indivisible and immaterial; our body, on the contrary, and all other bodies have several forms; each of them is composed, divisible, changeable, destructible…
It is the same with the other faculties of our soul compared to those of our body and to the properties which are most essential to all material.

Q. What is intelligence or intelligent understanding?
A. Intelligence or intelligent understanding is the faculty by which all intellectual phenomena are carried out, that is to say, all those who hold to knowledge; it reaches the inner self through the consciousness, the physical non-self through the senses, the metaphysical and immaterial non-self through reason, which is called intuitive reason; but one must not forget that these three words: consciousness, sense or external sense and reason, only designate one and the same subject. The consciousness is the soul knowing itself; the external sense is the soul knowing the physical non-self; and reason is the soul knowing the metaphysical non-self.

Q. What is willpower?
A. Willpower is strength/force in action; but the action does not produce itself uniformly, it is spontaneous or voluntary: spontaneity is the first form of activity, willpower is the second.

Q. What is certainty?
A. Certainty is complete adhesion of the mind to a judgment given; certainty (when its object is the truth) is called positive; and it is called negative when its object is error.

Q. What is morality?
A. The soul distinguishes good and evil, just and unjust, and it feels obligated to practice good and to avoid evil.
This obligation, which one can not deny without making human life impossible, which one can also not deny without also denying the evidence, this obligation is duty: the duty or moral obligation derives the duties or the practical application of the general law to the particular facts; duty is absolute, duties are relative.
Morality then has as its objective to ascertain the law or moral obligation and to determine its different forms.
Our actions have diverse motives; these motives can be reduced to three principal ones: pleasure, utility and duty. Pleasure is the most vulgar of these motives, utility comes after, and the first rung belongs to duty; actions that elevate the first two motives have no moral value; those which were inspired by duty alone have this character and properly constitute human life.

Q. What do you understand by ‘learning the sciences’?
A. The thoughts and judgments of the greatest men who have cultivated themselves before us have been engraved in one’s spirit.

Q. Please give us the significance of the name Jehovah?
A. Some etymologists say that Jehovah signifies the one who is, and this explanation is consistent with the meaning of the Bible, which makes God say: I am the one who is.
It is, in fact, the only name one can give to God, the essential being, without beginning, without end, necessary cause of all that exists, in which the meta-physician believes, because nothing can exist without a cause; as the observer believes, because the magnificence and the order of the universe proves that there is a sovereign intelligence, creative and organizing; as the moralist believes, because there is a natural law at the bottom of all hearts, the universal consciousness of the just and of the unjust, the sentiment of all people, which is randomly discouraged like a very dry and very absurd idea.

Q. What do you understand by the word ‘profane’?
A. This denomination, common in the mysteries of antiquity, should not be taken negatively ; it only signifies one who is not part of this sublime institution, as opposed to the initiate (who has the right to enter into the masonic temple).

Q. Please give us the significance of the B and J columns.
A. The B column means strength/force: it is ‘firm perseverance in what is good’. The letter B is historically a symbol of goodness/kindness [French bonté ], and from that delicate benevolence that separates any person from the humiliation that it obliges.
The J column symbolically signifies ‘preparation of the Lord’: it is the wisdom of the man who takes his inspiration from religious sentiment.

Q. Do you see a moral sense in the letters J and B?
A. Yes, Venerable; they signify Justice and Goodness/Kindness. Justice and kindness are the foundation of every moral system. Through justice, one does no harm to anyone: it is the rigorous duty; goodness/kindness goes further, it raises itself to virtue by doing for others all the good we can.

The Venerable returns the mallet to the candidate through the Expert and leads him before the second Surveyor for him to strike the applause of the Apprentice on the brute stone; then the Recipient is again placed standing in front of the two columns. The Venerable addresses him with several questions about the degree of Apprentice, and concludes the exam with the following questions:

Q. What do the three strikes signify?
A. Faith in God, charity towards our brethren, and hope in the future.

Q. What is the origin of the brute stone?
A. The idea of the creative power of this world, which is seized by all people at birth, leading to the establishment of symbols that were originally as rough as the idea that they represented, being obscure and undetermined.
The first sacrifices, which the Bible and the most ancient traditions take us back to creation (so to speak) were made upon stone piles, which were consecrated in high places, according to the expression of Genesis, some great mementos.
These first altars, called Bethel, were erected in Chaldea, in Judea and in Egypt; they were built, as the Scripture says, with brute stones and without cement, symbol of the primitive age of man.
At Heliopolis, a place famous for the worship of the sun and of the great sidereal divinity of the Syrians, Lucian indicates a throne or altar of the sun, formed by three brute stones deposited in the form of a triangular table. In Ortosia, in Syria, one can still see a similar construction built in the middle of a covered precinct formed from five aligned brute stones. Strabo says that, while traveling in Egypt, he saw his path covered with temples consecrated to the god Mercury and composed of three brute stones. Artemidorus, quoted by Strabo, tells us that in Africa, near Carthage, the god Melkart, or the phoenician Hercules, whose worship was brought from Tyre, and was honored on brute stones to the number of seven, one upon the other.
The symbol of the brute stone is, then, of the highest antiquity.

Q. Why do you no longer have a blindfold over the eyes?
A. I think that by having seen the light, the Lodge (by advancing me in my degree) has judged me worthy to conserve it; since the light does not abandon us any more when we persevere in taking it as our guide, to maintain it, to augment it in ourselves with the torch [flame or blaze] of masonic philosophy, without which we will soon fall back into the darkness of ignorance and into the illusions of error.

Q. What does the trowel signify?
A. The trowel, with which one spreads the cement that holds the stones together and forms a compact whole, designates amenity, the connection that we must put in our relations, affectionate politeness with our language, which should be very clean so as to maintain harmony and friendship among the members of a Lodge, and to make a close-knit family; it is also an emblem of the closed mouth with regards to the defects of our Brothers, of the silence that discretion imposes, of the forgiveness for the faults that the guilty demonstrates through repentance; from there came the masonic saying: pass the trowel over a wrong, in order to say that one pardons it, that one buries it in profound oblivion.

Q. What do you understand by the term emblem?
A. Image of an object that represents something to the eye, and another to the spirit, like the level, sign of equality.

Q. What do you understand by the term allegory?
A. Discourse or tablet offering, in a moral sense, the grouping of multiple objects.

Q. What do you understand by the term type?
A. The triangle is the type of divine perfection; Hercules was the type of physical strength; Apollo, that of intellectual power, both employed to the advantage of society.

Q. Do you have any idea about hieroglyphics?
A. Yes, Venerable: this is the method of painting ideas through the figures of animals, plants, etc.; this is the first of all the forms of writing, which has preceded the characters of the alphabet. The sages of antiquity have supposed it has a divine origin: from this comes its name which means sacred Writing.

Q. What does the word philosophy signify?
A. The word philosophy means love of wisdom, of science, search for the truth. The object of philosophy is, then, the knowledge of man as an introduction to that of the world and that of God; it is upon this point that human thought is stimulated which is at once the instrument and the goal of philosophy.

Q. What is its usefulness ?
A. The usefulness and importance of philosophy emerged from its object itself; this science (which summarizes and embraces all the others) is a necessary complement to studies in every field.

Q. Give us the general idea of what natural law is.
A. The idea of a law was always a wise provision appropriate to reforming or improving customs.

Q. How many principal laws do you distinguish?
A. One distinguishes two principal kinds of laws: the natural and the positive. Positive law is divided into divine law and purely human law.

Q. What are the principles and the consequences of natural law?
A. Its principles are simple and uniform, its consequences are easy in their application; its principles are intimately related with those of reason.

Q. What is reason?
A. Reason is the first torch [flame or blaze] of the mind; it extends (through the operations of understanding) over the different objects that it knows how to combine with accuracy ; it is the seed of all the sciences.
Natural law is the first guide for the movements of the heart, which wants to be happy and contribute to the happiness of others; it is the seed of all the virtues.

After the candidate has answered the questions, the Great Brother expert throws water on him in order to purify him, while obliging him to affirm that he has always directed himself with wisdom.”

-Paraphrase from THE MYSTIC TEMPLE MAGAZINE OF FREE-MASONRY (1854) by Marconis de Nègre,
available in Ch. 13 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism



3B Memphis Rite: Catechism of the Female Companion (1854)

“The Female Companion Catechism for the Memphis Rite has been omitted since it is virtually identical to the Adonhiramite version.”

-From Ch. 13 of Esoteric Studies in Masonry – Volume 1: France, Freemasonry,
Hermeticism, Kabalah and Alchemical Symbolism



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